Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has asked former President Olusegun Obasanjo to apologise for the killings in Odi, Bayelsa state and Zaki Biam, Benue state during his tenure.
Why it matters:
In 1999, the army reportedly killed 2,483 people in Odi, after the death of a soldier. Many people were also reportedly killed in Zaki Biam in 2001 under Obasanjo’s administration.
Falana made the comment in a statement after Obasanjo asked President Muhammadu Buhari to meet leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu over Biafra agitation.
What he said:
Falana said Obasanjo’s advice was good but he should first apologise for the killings under his administration.
He also criticised former President Goodluck Jonathan for saying a council of state meeting should be called to resolve the IPOB crisis in the south-east.
“It is submitted, without any fear of contradiction, that neither the army nor the governors are empowered to proscribe or label the IPOB a terrorist organisation. In banning the IPOB the chief of army staff and the governors did not avert their minds to section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2011 as amended which provides that a terrorist organisation can only be proscribed in the country on the order of the federal high court based on an application made by either the national security adviser, attorney-general of the federation or inspector-general of police with the approval of the president,” he said.
“In calling for dialogue between President Buhari and Mr Kanu former President Obasanjo ought to have apologised publicly for the military invasions of Odi in Bayelsa state and Zaki Biam in Benue state ordered by him. The basis of the call should have been explained since President Obasanjo charged Niger Delta militants, leaders of ethnic militias and separatist movements with treason which led to their prolonged detention in prison custody.
“Convinced that President Obasanjo has realised that the criminalisation of such agitation did not achieve its objective his suggestion for a dialogue should be seriously considered by the federal government and the south-east governors.
“It is also interesting that President Goodluck Jonathan is calling for a meeting of the council of state to resolve the crisis. For goodness sake why was such a meeting not called before soldiers were deployed in the Niger Delta to deal with militants. Or did President Jonathan call any meeting before deploying soldiers all over the country for the 2015 general elections in defiance of the judgments of the federal high court and the court of appeal?
“Instead of suggesting irrelevant meetings the root causes of the increasing loss of faith in the corporate existence of Nigeria by unemployed youths and other poverty stricken people should be urgently addressed by the ruling class.”